If you have been injured as a result of slip trip and fall hazards on a construction site in Michigan, you may be able to successfully bring a claim for compensation on one or more of the following claims: workers’ compensation (against your employer); a negligent third-party; the general contractor; and/or the property owner or manager.
Working in construction can be dangerous. That’s why there are so many safety rules, regulations and requirements. It’s because it can be dangerous that these safety rules are in place – to protect construction workers and the people who work in construction areas.
But when those safety rules are ignored, hazards that endanger construction workers exist. The dangers posed to anyone working in a construction area increases dramatically – and needlessly.
If you or a loved one has been injured – or if you’ve lost a loved one because of this type of hazard – then you need to speak with an experienced slip and fall lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected and that you and your family recover all of the compensation and money damages you are legally entitled to.
How common are slip and falls and trips and falls in construction?
More than one-third (1/3) of worker deaths in the construction industry are caused by slips trips and falls. Approximately 46% of all fatal slips, trips and falls were suffered by workers in the construction industry.
What are the most common causes of slips trips and falls in construction?
The most common causes of slips trips and falls in construction include: (1) unstable or slippery walkways; (2) debris such as broken up concrete, scrap lumber, discarded building materials and trash; (3) ramps without slip resistant surfaces; (4) loose gravel; (5) hoses, cables and wires; and (6) OSHA violations.
If you are working at a construction site and your employer or a co-worker negligently creates the hazardous condition that causes your slip and fall injury, then in most states you will be able to file a Workers’ Comp claim against your employer. But you will most likely not be able to sue for pain and suffering if Workers’ Compensation is the only party that will be legally responsible.
Depending on what state your slip and fall construction accident occurs in, your state’s laws will likely include an “exclusive remedy” provision which allows injured workers to make claims against their employers for medical expenses and lost wages regardless of fault. The trade off under most state Workers’ Compensation systems is that in exchange, the law generally forbids the injured workers from filing a civil lawsuit for negligence compensation and damages for their injuries.
As such, Workers’ Comp is the injured worker’s “exclusive” remedy when the cause of the worker’s slip and fall injury is the employer’s negligence.
However, as I discuss below, often there are exceptions that an experienced construction accident lawyer can find. I’ve had many cases that other lawyers have referred to me over the years where often a third-party was also responsible for an injury at a construction zone and we were able to obtain a full and fair settlement for the injured construction worker.
Suing a negligent third party
In Michigan, when a third-party other than your employer or a co-worker is responsible for negligently creating slip trip and fall hazards in construction, you may be able to sue the third-party for pain and suffering compensation. Generally, a Workers’ Comp “exclusive remedy” provision will not bar this type of claim.
Third-parties whom you may be able to hold liable for injuries suffered from these types of accidents on building sites include: (1) the general contractor; (2) subcontractors; (3) product manufacturers; and/or (4) maintenance companies.
In states like Michigan, a worker who is injured by a slipping and falling or tripping and falling on a building site which was caused by the negligence of a third party, i.e., “some person other than a natural person in the same employ or the employer,” the injured worker can sue “to enforce the liability of the third party for damages.” (MCL 418.827(1) and (5))
Is the general contractor liable for your slips trips and falls on a construction site in Michigan?
If you’re injured by slip trip and fall hazards on a construction site in Michigan, then you may be able to sue the general contractor for your pain and suffering under the “Common Work Area Doctrine.” You will need to show the general contractor failed to protect you from “readily observable and avoidable dangers.”
This is considered a third-party claim under MCL 418.827(1) and (5) and, thus, is not precluded by the “exclusive remedy” provision in Michigan’s Workers’ Compensation law. (See Funk v. General Motors, 392 Mich. 91, 111-112 (1974))
Additionally, the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that the “open and obvious” doctrine that applies in slip and fall/premises liability cases does not apply in claims brought under the Common Work Area Doctrine. In Ghaffari v. Turner Construction Co., 473 Mich. 16, 31 (2005), a unanimous Michigan Supreme Court held that the “open and obvious doctrine has no applicability to a claim brought under the common work area doctrine. The two doctrines are conceptually distinct, and our case law has treated them as such.” As such, it is not a defense for a general contractor to claim that he or she should not be held liable because the hazards in the building site that led to your injuries were open and obvious.
When is a property owner liable for slip trip and fall hazards on a construction site in Michigan?
If it can be shown that a general contractor would have been liable for workers’ slips trips and falls on a construction site in Michigan under the Common Work Area Doctrine, but if it can also be shown that the property owner “retained control” over the construction project, then the property owner could be held liable.
Specifically, in its 2004 ruling in Ormsby v. Capital Welding, Inc., the Michigan Supreme Court held that “when the ‘common work area doctrine’ would apply, and the property owner has stepped into the shoes of the general contractor, thereby “retaining control” over the construction project, that owner may likewise be held liable for the negligence of its independent subcontractors.”
Alternatively, if your slip and fall injury is caused by a hazardous condition on the property, then you may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner or manager to recover compensation for your pain and suffering as well as your medical expenses and lost wages.
Were you injured in a slip and fall accident on a building site in Michigan? Call Michigan Slip and Fall Lawyers now for help
The stakes are high for you and your family if you’ve been seriously injured as a result of slip trip and fall hazards on a construction site in Michigan. We can help. The attorneys at Michigan Slip and Fall Lawyers are here to help you and your family fight to get the best possible legal settlement for you and your family. Call now for a no-cost, no obligation, free consultation with one of our experienced slip and fall lawyers to hear about your legal rights to pain and suffering compensation and to money damages to help you and your family pay your medical bills and make up for the wages you’ve lost because your injuries have disabled you from working. To speak with us about your injury, call us now, or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “A look at falls, slips, and trips in the construction industry”)